22 Erasure of Black Women
ERASURE OF BLACK WOMEN’S EXPERIENCE
“You feel the need to constantly prove yourself worthy of your job or opportunity. You know that some people assume you got your job, promotion, award, or special recognition, not because you worked your ass off or deserve it, but because you are black (there goes that damn black privilege again, cause you know affirmative action causes folk to get jobs they are unqualified for and shit <insert sideye>).” –R. Boylorn
“It’s been YEARS since an incident on Twitter showed me the kind of person Chris Hardwick was, illustrated by his open disdain for Black Women on his many platforms. I didn’t need any other evidence to make it clear he was persona non grata to me. Other Black Women I know felt the same. When we spoke up about those feelings, we were told we were being too sensitive. We were scolded that Hardwick was ‘one of the good guys.’ We were told to pipe down because our ‘feelings’ about him weren’t enough evidence to make them believe something was off about this ‘cool dude.’” –Leslie Mac
“Attacks on black women’s hair are by no means new, nor did they begin with O’Reilly. Too often, the media’s emphasis on scrutinizing black women’s hair has deflected attention from the important things that they were doing and saying, and from the extraordinary strides that they were making. As law professor Lani Guinier was being considered to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 1993, neo-conservative Republican opponents misconstrued her policies, stereotyped her as a ‘quota queen’ and widely caricatured her hairstyle in political cartoons.” –Riche Richardson
“When you deal with white people [in the workplace], you will be told that you won’t be trusted because of how you look. You will be told that you will always seem less than white people. You will be perceived as violent despite never doing anything to warrant that perception. People will ask you about “Black” things and be surprised when you refuse to answer. Your contributions will be ignored or dismissed, often publicly, and then implemented in the background – and you will not receive credit for them. Then, when you point out your contribution, you will be viewed as narcissistic.” –TaLynn Kel
“…the only people who ever address me by my first name without permission are always and only white people. Black culture throughout the diaspora has deep regard for elders, teachers, clergy, and other authority figures. That culture of regard has survived the predations of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow, and all the depredations that followed. Because we are keenly aware that since our arrival on this continent white folks have called us whatever they wished, including stripping our names, language and culture, we revere each other‘s names. And, because the titles and honorifics which we have earned came and come at so high a price — we are the only people in this country for whom it was illegal to read and write punishable by mutilation, amputation, and death — respect for each other’s titles as well as our names is deeply embedded in our culture.” –Wil Gafney
“Instead of sharing in the outrage of Nia’s brutal murder, they came with fury for being tagged in a post that they felt challenged their own perceived feminist accomplishments. There were grand displays of defensiveness, demands that they be acknowledged for all the things they had done for black people in the past, and a terrifying lashing out that included racial slurs and doxing.
The fragility of these women was not a surprise to me. In a crucial moment of showing up for our marginalized community, there was more concern about their feelings and ego as opposed to the fight forward for women as a whole. What could have been a much-needed and integral display of solidarity and true intersectionality quickly became a live play-by-play of the toxicity that white-centered feminism can bring to the table of activism.
It is the type of behavior that rests under the guise of feminism only as long as it is comfortable, only as long it is personally rewarding, only as long as it keeps “on brand.” But if the history of this movement taught us anything, it is that intersectionality in feminism is vital. We cannot forget the ways that suffragettes dismissed the voices of black women, sending them to the backs of their marches, only for black activists like Ida B. Wells and Anna Julia Cooper to make major moves while fighting for the vote in tandem with their fight for rights as black people—ultimately shifting the shape of this country. If there is not the intentional and action-based inclusion of women of color, then feminism is simply white supremacy in heels.”
–Rachel Elizabeth Cargyle